Dental Care FAQs

Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why must my pet undergo anesthesia for a dental cleaning?  Cant the groomer just scrape the tartar off of his teeth?

Tartar is made of bacteria and when it is removed from the surface of the teeth we worry that small pieces could be inhaled by the patient causing a lung infection.  For this reason, “Non-anesthetic” cleaning is NEVER recommended. Anesthesia allows us to place an endotracheal tube in the windpipe to prevent infection of the lungs. Secondly, the most important part of the cleaning is the removal of plaque and tartar under the gumline.  This is just not possible in an awake pet.   And lastly, the teeth are not polished, which will leave the cleaned surface rough and actually increase the adherence of plaque to the teeth

Question:  I am worried about my 13 year old dog undergoing anesthesia for a dental procedure.  Is it possible for a dog to be too old to benefit from professional dental care?

Some people tell us about pets that have had problems or died under anesthesia.  Fifteen or twenty years ago many of these concerns would be valid reasons for not proceeding with an elective procedure in an older pet.  Fortunately, things have changed for pets having anesthesia today.  Contemporary anesthesia is much safer in several ways.

First, pre-anesthetic testing helps us to recognize those pets that are having internal problems that aren’t yet recognizable by their owners at home.  If a problem is found, we can try to resolve it before allowing the pet to undergo anesthesia.

Second, modern inhalant gas is a much safer arrangement than using only injectable agents to achieve an appropriate level of anesthesia.  As mentioned above, the endotracheal tube protects against contamination of the lungs by oral or stomach matter.

Third, monitoring has changed from merely watching to see if the dog is breathing to tracking pulse rate and quality, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature, and electrical rhythm of the heart.  When pets are being monitored appropriately it allows veterinarians and technicians to detect abnormalities and initiate therapy to avoid anesthetic problems.

Fourth, all pets undergoing dental care now receive fluid therapy by intravenous catheter during anesthesia to maintain vascular volume and blood pressure.  This protects sensitive brain and kidney cells.  We also use thermal support to prevent hypothermia during anesthesia which can change the rate at which drugs are processed.

I know our clients get tired of us saying it but I really believe that age is not a disease, and mature pets that are otherwise healthy are able to tolerate anesthesia well.  A pet that is older is more likely to have more severe periodontal disease and thus more pain.  These animals still need care in order to maintain the quality of their lives.  Taking care of their gums and teeth is also one of the best ways to extend their lifespan.

Question:  Why is cleaning my pets teeth more expensive than cleaning my teeth?  Why is it more expensive than the last time his teeth were cleaned a few years ago?

The cost of dental care for pets has certainly increased as the quality of anesthesia, cleaning, and services have increased.  One example is that we now offer dental radiography, or xrays, which allows us to see the roots and bone surrounding each tooth.  We want to provide safe anesthesia and a service that actually helps to treat pain and prevent progression of disease and to do that we need special equipment like a blood pressure monitor, a fluid pump, and an ultrasonic scaler.  Most of this equipment is not necessary when humans teeth are cleaned because we are not undergoing anesthesia.  Also, remember that usually our hygienist is performing a routine preventative cleaning before hardly any tartar has built up on our teeth.  Pets rarely get dental care this early and thus their cleaning is not a true preventative.

Question:  The doctor has recommended extraction of some of my pets teeth but will he still be able to eat without these teeth?

 Yes.  Our goal in veterinary dental care is for our patients to have mouths free of infection and pain.  It is much better to have no tooth at all than to have an infected tooth with a root abscess or a painful broken tooth.  We have many dog and cat patients that are able to eat a regular diet with few or even no teeth! Sometimes a veterinary dental specialist can offer root canals or more advanced therapy to save teeth.  Our doctors will always offer referral if there is a possibility of saving teeth.

Question:  I cant tell that my pet is in any pain even though he has broken teeth and red inflamed gums.  Wouldnt he stop eating if he was in any pain?

Some pets will stop eating all together when their teeth, bone, and gums hurt badly enough.  The vast majority, however, will find some tactic to keep eating.  They may chew on the other side of their mouths or swallow their kibble whole.  Pets have an extremely strong instinct to survive no matter what discomfort they feel.   Sometimes the symptoms of periodontal disease are so vague that we don’t notice them.  Pets may be reluctant to hold their toys in their mouths, be less playful, resent having their teeth brushed, have a hard time sleeping, or have no outward symptoms at all. Often, after we have treated broken teeth or extracted infected teeth, our patients’ parents tell us that they act more energetic and playful than they have in years!!

Question:  How often should a routine dental cleaning be performed?

Every patient is different so this is a hard question to answer.  Usually the smaller dogs should have their teeth cleaned earlier and more often because their teeth are more crowded in their mouths.  Bigger dogs may not develop tartar as quickly but their mouths should be monitored closely for any broken teeth.  Cats are all individuals and should be examine closely for any excessive gingivitis which may be an indication of some special cat diseases like resorptive lesions or stomatitis/gingivitis syndrome.

Question:  How can periodontal disease hurt my pet?

The possible local (ie in the mouth) effects of periodontal disease are pain, infection of the gums, bone, and/or teeth, and loss of teeth.  Chronic infection of the periodontal tissues allows bacteria to enter the circulatory system resulting in seeding of the internal organs (heart, kidneys, liver) and may lead to serious infections in these organs as well.

Seventeen & Sassy – Meet Freya!

Santa Paws

CAN YOU AFFORD NOT TO VACCINATE?

Apart from the distress and suffering these diseases can cause your pet …

cost of a vaccine – approx. $100 per year, varies with patient species & choice of vaccine

cost of 1 week hospitalisation & intensive care with parvovirus – up to $2,000

cost of antiviral ointments and specialist treatment of eye ulcers from feline herpes virus – up to $1,000

cost of medicines to treat  on-going skin, ear, eye & respiratory infections in an FIV+  cat – easily $300 per year

cost of ……

What’s more, each vaccination appointment at Summerhill Village Vet includes a full vet health check for every pet, which allows us to keep an eye out for any other issues.  By providing an “excuse” to visit for a check-up each year, a vaccination could end up saving your pet’s life in more ways than one.

BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE!

IMG_0472Apart from saving pets’ lives and their owners from heartache and hefty treatment bills, a vaccination certificate can open doors and make life run more smoothly for pets & owners on the go.  For the protection of the animals in their care, all boarding facilities have strict policies that require proof of vaccination before animals can be booked in. Finding a spot in a good cattery or kennel can be difficult and stressful enough during a busy holiday period or if you have to go into hospital unexpectedly, without being caught out at the last minute for not meeting this requirement. Similarly, doggy day care, grooming parlours and obedience schools usually enforce a vaccination rule too. And for any pets with a bent for globetrotting wanderlust … you guessed it; flying overseas with an airline or pet transport company definitely requires a current vaccination status and Fido and Fluffy will not get far without those all-important antibodies packed safely on board. And for any proud owners with a gorgeous pooch that they’re itching to show off at a dog show, a missing vaccination could be the only thing standing between you and that elusive blue ribbon.

WHAT ABOUT INDOOR PETS?

IMG_6401Even for pets who live a sheltered or indoor lifestyle, vaccination is a great way to insure against the unexpected, or worst case scenarios. Despite how secure a property may appear, we hear many stories about stray animals entering peoples’ yards or houses when they are out, potentially bringing in disease. If a pet escapes and runs away, we have little control over where they might go or whom they will meet. If an unvaccinated runaway pet ends up in a shelter or a pound, they could also be vulnerable, because cat flu, kennel cough and parvovirus are often rife in these places.

Patting a neighbourhood cat or dog & then coming home to your pet can also bring home some dangerous viruses, let alone walking in dog poo on the streets.

An isolated pet who isn’t vaccinated and doesn’t meet the wild viruses when out and about doesn’t get their immunity boosted and if they have to go to the Vet because they’re sick or injured they are suddenly put into a high risk environment.

PROVIDING PROOF

A veterinarian-issued vaccination certificate is all your pet needs as proof of that all-important immune status required by so many pet-care places. As an alternative to obtaining repeated boosters each year, pet owners can also choose to get their pet’s antibody levels, or titre measured and confirmed with a lab report. This report or letter can then be used in lieu of a vaccination certificate.  Up until recently, getting a pet’s titre tested cost more than a booster shot, and also took a lot longer because vets needed to send the sample to a lab. Butthings may be about to change, as a new kit has recently been developed that will allow Aussie vets to test for titres in-house and what’s more, will deliver those results in 20 minutes. “Vaccicheck” tests will be able to test for antibodies for all viruses that the C3 vaccine protects against and may turn out to be a very handy addition for clinics and their clients.

BUT ARE VACCINATIONS SAFE?

A wide range of vaccine reactions have been observed by pet owners, but the vast majority of them are short-lived and certainly not life-threatening. Complaints such as tiredness, restlessness, sneezing, runny noses, itchy skin or an upset tummy make up the vast majority of vaccine reactions reported to the Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) each year, as well as issues caused by the injection at the site such as pain, swelling, hair loss, small lumps, or abscesses. According to the APVMA, the likelihood of getting any of these signs after a vaccination is about 1 in 20,000 for cats and 1 in 30,000 for dogs, based on recent Australian data. For both species, the chance of a severe reaction is VERY RARE perhaps 1 in 100,000 could entail allergic/anaphylactic reactions, inflammation of the joints, haemolytic anaemia, fluid on the lungs or heart rhythm and blood pressure changes. The good news is that even these severe symptoms are treatable with appropriate emergency care, and are often preventable with a prophylactic (ie. a preventative treatment) such as an antihistamine prior to vaccination, in pets who are known or suspected to have allergic reactions. For this reason, it is not considered best practice to leave a pet unattended following a vaccination.  In terms of the big picture, the risks are very small, and compared with the prospect of a painful death or a lifetime of constant illness from a preventable disease, the choice is not so daunting.

AND DO THEY WORK?

Since the Distemper vaccine was released in the 1960’s, cases of this disease in Australia have dwindled away, to the point where it is virtually eradicated, and most vets practicing today have never even seen a single case. Unfortunately, the war with Parvo has not been quite as successful, as this virus survives much longer in the environment than distemper virus, and spreads so quickly and effectively. One only has to compare a clinic in a low vaccination area to one in a high vaccination area, to see how effective this preventative measure truly is. Without fail, every clinic in an area where vaccinations are neglected, will deal with regular cases of this chilling disease. We are blessed and thankful at Summer Hill that it is rarely a part of our lives and would like to congratulate all of our clients for being so diligent in keeping their pets safe!

SOURCES
http://vaccicheck.com.au/index.html
http://communityvet.net/2011/01/thumbnail-audit-of-adverse-vaccination-events/
http://apvma.gov.au/node/10946
http://www.ava.com.au/policy/620-vaccination-rabbits-and-ferrets
https://www.wellpet.com.au/veterinary-services/vaccinations/
http://sydneypetresort.com.au/boarding/
http://www.happypawsfitness.com/dog-day-care-studio/
http://royalrover.com.au/care
http://dogsplay.com.au/#daycare
http://dogsempire.com.au/what-we-do/

thanks to Brigitte Duffield final year Vet student in 2017 for this excellent document!

How to save your pet’s life AKA Vaccination Recommendations

It might surprise you to know that many loving pet parents fail to protect their pet against unpleasant, painful and even potentially fatal diseases.

As your pet’s Veterinarian it’s our job to give you all the help we can to protect them from these diseases. One of the best ways we can do this with the most serious ones is by vaccination.

Even if you take your pet to the Vet regularly, there may be special circumstances where your little one needs additional protection. We understand that there is a lot of information available about vaccines, some of this is valid scientific data and some is speculation. We have provided the following as a guide to summarise the most important information on who needs which vaccine.

If you would like to confirm your pet is protected, please give us a call on 9797 2555 or drop us an email at contact@summerhillvillagevet.com

The curious may read on!

Protecting Dogs

Bonnie

All dogs should be vaccinated against 3 very serious diseases: the “core vaccination”

  1. Parvovirus
  2. Distemper
  3. Hepatitis

The vaccine for these diseases should be given several times as a puppy and ongoing into adulthood. After the first yearly booster is given (usually around the time your dog is 15 months of age) there is an option to continue with yearly boosters OR a 3 yearly booster OR have a yearly blood test to ensure your dog has adequate antibodies. At Summer Hill Village Vet we offer all 3 options, but most people just have the yearly booster with their annual check up.

Any dogs that socialise with other dogs either in the street, through the fence, at the park, in doggy daycare or kennels should be vaccinated against kennel cough. The agents covered by this vaccine are:

  1. Parainfluenza
  2. Bordatella

Because our inner west doggies tend to be very sociable we routinely vaccinate all dogs at Summer Hill Village Vet for kennel cough.

If your dog has been given a current C5 vaccine they are protected against all of the diseases discussed so far!

Less common diseases we may also vaccinate against:

  1. Coronavirus: Very young puppies are mainly at risk of contracting this disease. It does not cause significant disease in adults as most fully-grown dogs have been exposed and are immune to it. We may recommend vaccination against Coronavirus to breeders or for young shelter animals if we think they are at risk. Not needed for all other dogs.
  1. Leptospirosis: A nasty but not very common disease. We generally won’t include this in a routine vaccination unless the animal is in an environment rife with rats which are the most common carriers of this disease in our area. It can be transmitted in rat urine and is also found in the urine of some farm animals. So, dogs spending time on dairy farms and the like should be vaccinated against this.
  2. Rabies …not found in Australia!! However, Sandra at Summer Hill Village Vet is registered to administer the rabies vaccination to animals that are travelling to destinations overseas.

Protecting Cats

Ralph

All cats should be vaccinated against 3 serious diseases:

  1. Panleucopenia
  2. Herpesvirus
  3. Calicivirus

The vaccine for these diseases is a core one and should be given several times as a kitten and ongoing into adulthood. After the first yearly booster is given (usually around the time your cat is about 15 months of age) we continue to give the herpesvirus and calicivirusvaccine every year, and the panleucopeniaone every 3 years. Previous recommendations of 3 yearly vaccines for cats are NOT adequate for herpesvirus and calicivirus!

If your cat has been given a current F3 vaccine they have some protection against all of these diseases!

Other diseases we may vaccinate against:

  1. Chlamydia: Can be a common cause of flu-like symptoms in cats but is mainly a disease we see in shelters and breeding catteries. We may recommend a vaccine against this to those we think are at risk but it’s generally not included in the yearly vaccine for most cats.
  1. Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): Not a common disease but always a fatal one. If you’re acquiring a cat and you are unsure of its history it should be tested for this. We do a simple blood test on the spot to screen for this and the FIV virus. If your cat is negative we then assess if they will be at risk of getting the virus. Cats can be vaccinated yearly for this if indicated. It’s mainly a disease of multicat households including breeding catteries. FeLV is generally not included in the yearly vaccine for most cats.
  1. FIV (or Feline AIDS): This vaccine should be given to any cat that is at risk of fighting with other cats. This means we recommend this vaccine for any cat this is allowed outside. Strictly indoor cats DO NOT need this vaccine.It has come to our attention that there are many cats receiving only a yearly F3 vaccine whose lifestyle puts them at risk of getting FIV. Please check your vaccine certificate or call us if your cat goes outside. If they are not protected against FIV we would like to get them up to speed as soon as possible!
  1. Rabies: Not found in Australia!! However, Sandra at Summer Hill Village Vet is registered to administer the rabies vaccination to animals that are travelling to destinations overseas

Protecting Rabbits

rabbitCalicivirus: This is a fatal infection that causes sudden death in rabbits. All rabbits should be vaccinated against this. Due to a new strain being released by the government soon to control wild rabbits, it is now important that most rabbits be vaccinated every 6 months instead of every year. Please call Summer Hill Village Vet to check your bunny’s risk status.

Prevention is better than cure! If your pet is not up to date with what they need, or you are not sure what they need please call us on 9797 2555. Animals that are very overdue for vaccination may require extra boosters…To help some of our clients get their pets up to date we are offering a VACCINATION AMNESTY from now until the end of April 2017. This means that when you bring your pet in to be vaccinated, if they are so overdue that they require a booster vaccine we will provide this second (and/or third) vaccine at NO CHARGE.